RIP Leo Baxendale

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I was never a Beano or Dandy reader, but this book, Willy the Kid Book 2, as well as Sweeney Toddler when I was a kid, was poured over by me and my brother, we knew every little detail. It took me years to find a copy of Book 1 (and I only just found out there was a Book 3!) and his book, Thrrp! for Knockabout probably wins the stupidest comic ever award.
RIP Leo Baxendale

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Bigmouth podcast guest appearance

I was very pleased to be asked to guest on one of my favourite podcasts: Bigmouth, talking about 2000AD’s 40th anniversary, the new Magnetic Fields album and the first part of new BBC drama SS-GB alongside guest Matt Allen and regular hosts Andrew Harrison and Matt Hall. Also hear which track of the week I chose and what closing time chatter gem I dredged up.
UPDATE: Annoyingly I go the date of the Orbital Comics closing party gig wrong at the end, it’s March 10th, not 9th.

Beyond 2000AD exhibition glimpse

Beyond2000_poster Beyond2000_progs Beyond2000_records1 Beyond2000_records2 Beyond2000_TimeOutI finally got time to pop into Orbital Comics and see their small but packed exhibition of 2000AD offshoots, tie-ins, cash-ins, memorabilia, music, magazines, toys and so much more. Not having an opening party because it would clash with the comic’s own 40th celebration a couple of weekends ago they’ve decided to have a closing party on Friday March 10th where there will be a podcast recording and music by yours truly among others.
I also just guested on the Big Mouth podcast pre-record, talking about the comic’s legacy which will be available online this coming Sunday. More details as I have it.

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Future Shock 2000AD art at the Cartoon Museum photos

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I finally got a chance to see the Future Shock exhibition of 2000AD classic original art the other day at the Cartoon Museum, tucked away in the back streets near the British Museum. It costs £7 and once you’ve navigated past some of the most miserable/bored looking staff you’ll ever see you can peruse the galleries of comic and political art.

As far as pieces by key artists of essential stories and characters go, this is one of the best collections of art you’ll see aside from Rufus Dayglo‘s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it exhibition this coming weekend at Geek 2017 in Margate. The bulk of it comes from long-time collector Wakefield Carter who runs the Barney database and regularly trades or sells original art. All the major names are here, with examples from some of the classic stories too (Dredd Cursed Earth and Dark Judges to name but two) and there’s a lot of it. Shown here are just a few of my personal highlights.

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Upstairs, the regular exhibition is full of classic images, characters and artists too inc. Dave GibbonsLichtenstein-baiting ‘Whaat?’, Watchmen, Batman, Dan Dare and V For Vendetta art and original Leo Baxendale pages.

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2000AD 40th exhibitions

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The ‘mighty organ’ that is 2000AD is 40 years old this month and today is the big celebration at the Novotel in Hammersmith. I won’t be attending but photos already posted on social media are making me wish I was.

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Also opening today is the Beyond 2000AD exhibition at Orbital Comics (see flyer above) that I’ve contributed some pieces to. This looks at the wider impact of the comic outside of the printed page including merchandise, toys, t-shirts, bags, record sleeves and more.

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Just up the road the Cartoon Museum is showing a huge selection of original art from the comic under the banner Future Shock: 40 years of 2000AD, so if you haven’t got a ticket to the 40th bash you can still soak up 40 years worth of thrills.

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Future Shock 40 years of 2000ad poster

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Two different 2000AD original art exhibitions mark the comic’s 40th anniversary this coming Feb. The first opens at the Cartoon Museum  in 13 days for 3 months. The second is on for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 3 days mid Feb at Geek 2017 at Dreamland in Margate and, I believe, is mainly culled from Rufus Dayglo‘s incredible collection – certainly one of the best I’ve ever seen.2000AD40thMargate

Songs of Immigrants & Experience

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Earlier this year I reconnected with an old friend from the early Ninja Tune days, Shane Solanki, a writer and poet who was responsible for the original Ninja press releases and the lexicon inside the original Ninja Skinz packets. These freeform, punning, cut and paste definitions, profiles and prose helped define part of the aesthetic and thinking behind the label in the early years and gave voice to Coldcut and co.’s ideals. He’s currently constructing a hugely ambitious project involving a stage play, an album and a graphic novel based on a story he’s written called ‘Songs of Immigrants and Experience’.
I helped him visualize certain scenes for the play and put together a rough version of an extract from the novel to help present the complicated project to prospective publishers. Below you can see examples of the A4 handout at the last performance and shots from the show with some of the scenes as backdrops. For more info go to Lastmangoinparis.netSongsinsideSongsinsidedoveSongsinsidedetailSongsback

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2000AD – Prog 2000

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2000AD Prog (issue) 2000 lands today, that’s a lot of comics in nearly 40 years and only serves to strengthen what has become a British institution up there with The Eagle, The Beano, The Dandy and Viz in UK comic publishing.
Wrapped in one of three different covers, including a free poster and featuring many of the greats who made its name over 30 years ago returning for the party, it’s a perfect celebration of what makes it the galaxy’s greatest.

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They’re not afraid to poke fun at their misjudgements either and it’s not just a nostalgia-fest, new strip, Counterfeit Girl, by Peter Milligan and Rufus Dayglo holds its own with the rest.

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Raygun Comics in Richmond, London have a special 2000ad day this Saturday Oct 1st to celebrate Prog 2000, they’ll be giving away back issues and the winner of their Judge Dredd colouring competition will get a copy of Prog 1. Also they have a copy of Prog 2 still with unused stickers! Never seen those before, an eye-watering £350 though…
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Steve MacManus’ 2000AD memoir

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It’s a big year for 2000AD – in 4 weeks time they hit Prog 2000 – that’s issue 2000 to the uninitiated. Now in their 38th year, that’s a feat only rivaled by The Beano and The Dandy (to my knowledge). It’s already an institution but, given the comic’s title, it’s 2000th issue has always been a landmark in waiting. They’ve got multiple signings on October 1st all over the UK, a choice of three different covers and several high profile artists have returned for one-off stories. But that’s not all…

MacManusCoverLast week I dutifully lined up with the other Squaxx inside Orbital Comics to meet Steve MacManus, the editor who helmed the comic through it’s first golden age in the 80s and who has just published his memoir of his time as Tharg, The Mighty One, the alien editor of the comic since its inception in 1977. He genially signed my copy as well as one for Steve Cook, aka Robo-Cook, the designer in his charge at the time, who designed the logo they still use to this day and now resides in LA as head of book design for DC Comics. The book is out today, published by 2000AD/Rebellion and you can order it here – it promises to be a real warts and all collection too.

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There was a special significance for me too as, when I walked in, I recognised a selection of part of my collection of 2000ADs that I’d sold to the store this Spring, adorning the back wall of the shop in honour of the signing.

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Kenneth Rocafort on The Ultimates

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Most regular readers will know that I don’t really read many comics published by ‘the big two’, but I do make the odd exception, usually when an artist I like is on a book. The rebooted The Ultimates with Kenneth Rocafort on art and Brit writer Al Ewing is one such title. Rocafort has a unique style with a keen eye for detail that is unlike much of what comes out of your standard super hero monthlies these days. With Ewing pushing a more cosmic agenda so far, it’s given plenty of scope to open up the story to more fantastical imagery with Galactus appearing early on. The cover and spread here are from issue #9 which crosses over to be part of the Marvel Civil War II storyline in places.

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RIP Jack Davis

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Where do you begin with Jack Davis? I first saw his work in the UK versions of MAD magazine in the 80s but he had been producing countless numbers of comics, illustrations, record covers and film posters for decades before that. He was one of the original ‘usual gang of idiots’ from US MAD’s inception in the 50s, a regular on Tales From the Crypt, producing the cover for the later issues, as well as war comic Two-Fisted Tales and a ton of other EC Comics. He drew some of the best monsters including the classic Frankenstein which was made into a life-size cut out poster (see below).
He worked for a lot of the MAD-a-like humour titles too like, Sick, Cracked, Help and Panic as well as regular work with publications such as Time and TV Guide. He has a huge body of film posters to his name, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World being a particular classic, which in turn led to record sleeves for the soundtracks. From here he drew sleeves for music from rock to country to brass bands to soul, I have a particularly great Sesame Street album with Davis art all over it which I’ll post soon.
He was a legend of comic art, up there with Jack Kirby and Moebius, RIP

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Spider-Man Music 1967-69 (ALL Background Music)

This is SO awesome – all the background music by Ray Ellis from the first season plus some from seasons 2 and 3 of the late 60s Spider-man cartoon series. Check the tracks at 54:52 and 1:04:50 ! YouTube user 11db11 explained how he put it all together:

“I cut out every piece of music from all 3 seasons (that took like a month) – Then I grouped them together (multiple incidents of each song) – Then I built each song from the best parts of the multiple versions. – I had to EQ each individual clip to even the levels, bass, treble … – – I left the video alone so people could see where the clips came from.”

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Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth uncensored signing

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The Gosh Comics signing of the new Judge Dredd ‘The Cursed Earth uncensored’ book was smash hit on Saturday. When I arrived the queue snaked out of the shop, across the road and round the block and they’d just sold out of the graphic novel in question. A quick run to the nearby Orbital Comics revealed the same and Forbidden Planet too. No joy but I did manage to get a snap of the legends, Mike McMahon and Brian Bolland inside the shop before I departed – not a wasted journey at all.

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In case you’re wondering what all the fuss was about, the story in question was the first ever Judge Dredd ‘epic’ (ie. a multi-issue story that spanned over 20 issues) that ran in 2000AD back in 1978. Several episodes featured characters from the McDonalds, Burger King and Jolly Green Giant companies who swiftly slapped the comic with a legal warning that these properties were their copyright. Since the original issues, all reprints of the story have been missing these episodes but recent changes in the law meant that they can now be restored because they fall into the parody category and thus, don’t infringe on copyright as they once did.

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From what I’ve seen, the new hardback version is beautifully restored and features both character and career-defining artwork from McMahon and Bolland, the only artists on the strip, alongside writer Pat Mills. Co-incidentally, the first issue of the comic I ever picked up, as an impressionable eight year old, contained the first episode of the story and I was hooked. I even went so far as to commission Mike to recreate his cover for that prog (61) for me a few years back. The initial print run is now apparently sold out so good luck in tracking one down.

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Smut and Jeff comic kickstarter

Smut n Jeff promoThis is a new comic Kickstarter from Kody Camberlain (remember Punks – the comic that I raved about last year?) This time round Kody is writing rather than illustrating. It’ll be a 5 issue, 32 pgs per issue, series if it gets funded and I think many of a certain age will identify with the story’s angle, below:

“SMUT AND JEFF is not a porn story, it’s a story about scarcity. It’s an homage to the quest for those unattainable treasures of youth before the internet took hold of humanity. A time when search engines were librarians and encyclopedias. Beyond that, and unknown to many, there was a secret underground of information spoken softly in certain areas of the cafeteria and the movie theater parking lot. With enough information, a bold teenager might venture into an unknown neighborhood to purchase a hip hop album the stores wouldn’t dare carry. SMUT AND JEFF is a tribute to those noble quests of the 80s, and the adventurous youth that dared embark on the adventure.”

Read the 6 page preview and then maybe check out the different packages on the Kickstarter? You can get original art, meet the creators or even be drawn into the book

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